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6 September, 2007 / Erik

What HD-DVD Gets You

According to DVD Active, the specs for the Transformers HD-DVD release are as follows:

TRANSFORMERS HD DVD

The HD DVD is presented in 1080p High Definition with English, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital Plus and English, English SDH+, French, Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese subtitles. In addition to the above features that will be presented in high definition, the TRANSFORMERS HD DVD will also offer the following exclusive content:

Disc 1:
— TRANSFORMERS H.U.D. (Heads Up Display)–In this mode, viewers can
   access running text-based behind-the-scenes background information
   on the production during the feature. Users can also watch relevant
   picture-in-picture b-roll and video with Bay, Spielberg and other
   filmmakers during select sequences.
— Transformers Intelligence Mode web-enabled features consist of:
   — Transformation Mode
   — Health Meter
   — Weapon Mode
   — Robot Bio
   — In Scene Indicator
   — Text Ticker
   — GPS

Disc 2:
— TRANSFORMERS Tech Inspector – Gives viewers an unprecedented look
   at the TRANSFORMERS robots through the exquisitely detailed models
   created by ILM artists. Users can zoom in on each detail for a
   closer examination and pause and change the rotation of the models.

Oh, there’s also the features from the standard release, but you can take a look at them by following the link to DVD Active. What’s interesting to me is just how disinteresting this turned out. Pop up b-roll and electronic press kit material? Spielberg waxing philosophical? Weirder still is the web-enabled features. I just learned about this concept last week. Some HD-DVD’s access special servers over the Internet and bring extra content to you via the modem.

I might suddenly be Vic Luddite here, but I don’t want my videos dialing out to the Internet. If I want to watch a movie (or even Michael Bay’s feature length commentary–his commentaries are always worth the effort), I’ll watch a DVD. If I want web videos, I’ll go to YouTube. I just fail to see how this is anything more than a gimmick.

And that seems to be the problem with recent DVD special editions. They’re not very special. Now the forthcoming Blade Runner release (on all formats) is, in fact, special. Five versions of the film, loads of extras, and a new feature length documentary on the struggle to make the film. The difference here: twenty-five years. When a recent film comes to DVD, it’s hard to get any honesty from it. It’s mostly compiled from press footage and the commentary tracks are recorded before the filmmakers know how the film was received. So it still smacks of the hype machine. When a special edition DVD is made of an older film, lips are looser and the information is more interesting and robust, not merely limited to “so here’s how we did that shot in the computer.”

I have to admit, I like the choice of simple single disc editions for recent films. On a movie like Transformers, do we really need to peak behind the scenes?

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